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Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Speaker, I would like to enter into a colloquy with the distinguished chairman.
Mr. Chairman, I thank you for including language in this bill that would remove current barriers for States to strengthen the unemployment insurance program through optional drug testing. By doing so, we can help increase individuals' ability to gain future employment and help ensure benefits are not being used to finance an individual's drug dependency. It is my understanding that the intent of this language is to provide flexibility to States to establish drug screening methods if they so choose.
I yield to the gentleman from Michigan.
Mr. CAMP. That is correct. The language in the bill provides States with the option to screen and test UI program applicants for illegal drug use.
Mr. KINGSTON. Thank you.
I would like to call States' attention to drug screening assessments approved by the National Institutes of Health that identify individuals as having a high probability of drug use. Under the bill I introduced, individuals deemed by those assessments to be high risk would be required to complete and pass a drug test in order to receive benefits.
General tax dollars help fund payments after 26 weeks. So people who are unemployed should be looking for a job and should not become voluntarily ineligible by taking illegal drugs. In this tough budgetary environment, we must maximize tax dollar spending efficiently and effectively. I appreciate your commitment to hold a hearing on this issue no later than the spring, and I thank you for pointing toward further action.
Mr. CAMP. That is a helpful reminder, especially to those States that look to take advantage of how this legislation removes current bureaucratic barriers preventing them from doing that sort of screening and testing, if they so choose.
Mr. KINGSTON. I look forward to working with the committee on this proposal. I thank the chairman and the subcommittee chairman, Mr. Davis, for their support and their discussions of this language.
I thank the gentleman for engaging in this colloquy.
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